Banditry: West Pokot leaders want security operations halted, dialogue tested

As rampant killings persist due to banditry and cattle rustling activities in the troubled Kerio Valley region, a section of leaders from West Pokot County has urged the government to halt the ongoing security operation in the North Rift region and give dialogue a chance.

The leaders claim that many lives have been lost since the operation began two months ago.

The leaders said that the security operation was not yielding fruits and that the Government should now use the church to preach peace to residents from warring communities and involve local leaders to preach peace for people to reconcile.

“The security operation won’t succeed. Former President, the late Daniel Arap Moi tried in   1984 and 1998 but failed,” West Pokot Deputy Governor Robert Komolle said.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Tapach area,  Komolle noted that the Government should consider changing the strategy it uses in ending banditry in the region.

“It should emulate Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni asked Uganda to surrender illegal guns and protected them. The Uganda border is protected. The Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet borders are not protected,” Komolle said.

“There are no security officers and the few police officers are only chasing after Pokot and Marakwet girls.”

Komolle asked the government to conduct peace meetings and negotiate with their residents instead of using force.

“If everyone is involved in farming then cattle rustling will end,” he said.

 He noted the government’s need to compensate those who lost lives, livestock and property during the operation as he accused criminals of taking advantage of the operation to kill innocent people.

“Hunger and pasture searching is the major cause of perennial conflict. The government needs to start irrigation projects in the region to avoid herders travelling miles to search for water and pasture,” he said.

He claimed that the Government has failed to beef up security in the region and has resorted to using NPRs in the security operation hence asking the Government to revisit the security operation.

“This will increase insecurity. At the moment chiefs and leaders don’t know anything about the operation. Nobody supports banditry but we need to agree. Businesses have been affected in the region,” he said.

He said as leaders they will consult with the security team to ensure proper strategies are proposed and implemented to curb insecurity.

Komolle said the Pokot community has a Positive attitude towards restoring peace and faulted the national government for not stipulating the period of operation and yet the Kenyan constitution protects all people.

He faulted Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki for not walking the talk, urging him to call for leaders meeting in the region.

“We need to come together as leaders from affected counties. Bandits are not in the bush. If you tell a bandit that you will come for him tomorrow will he stay there? He will escape,” he said.

On his part, Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto said: “The government imposed the operation because they wanted to see the results which include deaths of lives and livestock without any long-term solution. It’s high time for the government to leave unto us as West Pokot and Baringo leaders to bring sanity.”

Moroto asked the government to borrow a leaf from the Uganda government where they managed to end cases of cattle rustling along the Kenya – Uganda border.

“The Ugandan government disarmed its residents and set up police camps along the border to protect the residents,” he said.

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